A Review of the 2024 NFL Draft

May 2, 2024

Kunal Singh – Senior Data Scientist at StarX

Now that the highly anticipated 2024 NFL draft is over, it’s time to highlight some of our favorite and least favorite picks in the draft.  At StarX, we've dedicated ourselves to the development of machine learning-based projections for college football players, so the draft is our favorite time of the year. If you are curious about the process and data we use, I urge you to check out a more technical breakdown of work on Medium here.

Our projections of college players are done by year, so we can look at a few different metrics to evaluate our predictions. One of which is our first-year projections that can help us evaluate how well our models predict the draft and will be referred to as our “first-year big board”. Since the rookie wage scale is set in order by each draft pick, the better the model can predict the draft order, the more accurate the model will be. Of the top 32 players on our first-year big board, 29 of the players were selected in the first round for over 90% accuracy. The three players we missed on were Ricky Pearsall, Graham Barton, and Jordan Morgan who were 34th, 35th, and 36th in our first-year big board rankings respectively. If you want to see our full first-year big board, check it out here!

Looking past just the rookie wage scale, we have the ability to project out players 10 years from their draft class. We will dive into some examples of players we thought were both undervalued and overvalued based on their draft pick this year, and provide some historical comparisons to prospects we saw similarly when they were coming into the draft.

Please note that for rookies from this 2024 NFL draft class, we are using their expected contract details from their draft position (via Spotrac) since players have not officially signed yet. Also note that we made a conscious decision to keep our axes standard across all plots to help tell the most accurate story possible.

4 of our Favorite Picks

Round 1 – Los Angeles Rams: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

Jared Verse was selected 19th overall by the Los Angeles Rams. We have Verse as our 7th ranked non-quarterback prospect on our big board and given our first-year projections, we thought he was worthy of the 8th pick in the draft. Given how fast the rookie scale drops off in the first round, we see the Rams gaining significant value with this draft pick. 

A comparable player that we saw coming out of college – from a financial standpoint – was Bills EDGE rusher Ed Oliver. We had Verse as a more valuable long term prospect than Oliver at the time of their respective drafts, yet Oliver went 9th in the draft – 10 spots higher than Verse. After Oliver played 4 seasons in the league, he signed a 4-year, 68 Million dollar extension with the Bills before the 2023-2024 season and carries cap hit’s of 3.81% and 7.59% over the next two seasons.

Round 2 – Philadelphia Eagles: Cooper DeJean, DC, Iowa

Cooper DeJean was selected 40th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles. We have DeJean as our 14th ranked non-quarterback prospect on our big board and given our first-year projections, we thought he was worthy of the 32nd pick in the draft. Another steal for Eagles GM Howie Roseman, who continues to consistently make great decisions in the draft. Although the Eagles may not get as much value over the first four years as the Rams will with Verse, DeJean was the #2 cornerback on our big board which makes us a huge fan of the pick.

Our comp for DeJean was Brian Branch who was drafted out of Alabama with the 45th pick last year. We saw Branch as a more valuable prospect by a small margin, and he was drafted 5 slots lower than DeJean. Both players are extremely versatile, being able to play inside and outside and both having safety-flex. 

Round 3 – Dallas Cowboys: Cooper Beebe, OG, Kansas State

Cooper Beebe was selected 73rd overall by the Dallas Cowboys. We have Beebe as our 27th ranked non-quarterback prospect on our big board and given our first-year projections, we thought he was worthy of the 49th pick in the draft. Beebe was the second most valuable interior offensive lineman on our board.

We see Beebe as a significantly better prospect than Texans guard Kenyon Green when he got drafted in 2021. Not only do we see him as a better long term prospect but we also thought Beebe would be drafted slightly higher than Green in their respective drafts – Green went 15th overall (a huge reach by our standards) where Beebe was selected 58 picks later at 73rd overall. More on the Cowboys draft later. 

Round 4 – Denver Broncos: Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

Troy Franklin was selected 102nd overall by the Denver Broncos. We have Franklin as our 30th ranked non-quarterback prospect on our big board and given our first-year projections, we thought he was worthy of the 33rd pick in the draft. Although the Broncos had to trade capital to move up in the draft which is often a bad move, we think they got a gem in the early 4th round. 

We see Franklin very similar to how we saw Rashod Bateman coming out. Although by our standards Bateman was slightly overdrafted by Baltimore (27th overall), we think this is more indicative of how deep this class of wide receivers is. For context, Bateman was our 5th highest WR on our 2021 big board, and Franklin was 10th in this class. 

3 of our Least Favorite Picks

Round 1 – Miami Dolphins: Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State

Chop Robinson was selected 21st overall by the Miami Dolphins. We have Robinson as our 34th ranked non-quarterback prospect on our big board and given our first-year projections, we thought he was worthy of the 33rd pick in the draft. Although taking a premium position in the first round is never a bad thing, we are a slightly lower on Robinson than the public and thought it was a reach for the Dolphins in the mid first round.  

A player we saw similarly coming out of school was Bengals pass rusher Sam Hubbard from Ohio State. We thought both players would be high second round picks and projected their careers very similarly. Hubbard was selected 77th overall by the Bengals (a steal by our projections) and signed a 4-year, 40 Million dollar extension with the Bengals after his rookie contract ended. 

Round 2 – Atlanta Falcons: Ruke Orhorhoro, DT, Clemson

Ruke Orhorhoro was selected 35th overall by the Atlanta Falcons. We have Orhorhoro as our 48th ranked non-quarterback prospect on our big board and given our first-year projections, we thought he was worthy of the 62nd pick in the draft. This may not have been the Falcons worst pick in the draft based on their first round selection (Michael Penix), not to mention they traded up 7 spots for Orhorhoro and lost approximately another 5th round pick in value. 

Having said all this, Orhorhoro isn’t a bad prospect by any means but was significantly overdrafted based on our projections. Joseph Ossai was a comparable player coming out and he was selected 69th overall by the Bengals, about 1 round later than Orhorhoro. Another good sanity check is to see where a player ranked on Arif Hassan’s consensus big board which compiles hundreds of mock draft sources – Orhorhoro was around the 68th player on the consensus board which lines up with our model. 

Round 3 – New England Patriots: Caedan Wallace, OT, Penn State

Caedan Wallace was selected 68th overall by the Patriots. We have Wallace as our 166th ranked non-quarterback prospect on our big board and given our first-year projections, we thought he was worthy of the 181st pick in the draft. This is another strange reach on an offensive lineman from the Patriots. We’ve seen them way off from the consensus board when drafting offensive lineman in the last few drafts, and the trend continues. 

Our Favorite Draft: Dallas Cowboys

Round 1 Pick 29 – Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

In the first round Dallas traded down 5 spots from 24 to 29 with the Lions (gaining an additional 3rd round pick in value) and selected Tyler Guyton from Oklahoma. Guyton was our 11th most valuable non-qb prospect on our big board and 4th ranked OT. This was a steal for Dallas based on our projections – not only did they select an elite player but gained an additional 3rd round selection in value by trading down.

Round 2 Pick 53 – Marshawn Kneeland, EDGE, Western Michigan

In the late second round Dallas selected Marshawn Kneeland with the 53rd overall pick in the draft. Kneeland was our 39th most valuable non-qb prospect. We loved the selection at that spot and they added another premium position to their talented roster.

Round 3 Pick 73 – Cooper Beebe, OG, Kansas State

We’ve already touched on Beebe at length as he was highlighted in our “favorite picks” section above, but he was a steal for us in the 3rd round. This highlights the value of trading back, moving back 5 spots in the first round got them both Guyton and Beebe!

Round 5 Pick 174 – Caelen Carson, DC, Wake Forest

Carson was selected with the 174th pick in the draft where we had him as our 83rd player on our big board. He was also 116th in Arif Hassan’s consensus board, so a steal by both our projections and the consensus board.

The Cowboys continue to draft extremely well, shoutout to their VP of Player Personnel Will McClay who leads their scouting department. Over the last few years, they are one of the strongest teams in the draft using our projections. Bold players are All-Pro or Pro Bowl selections. 

Connor McGovern, 90th overall in 2019 (60th on our non-qb big board)

Michael Jackson, 158th overall in 2018 (78th)

CeeDee Lamb, 17th overall in 2020 (8th)

Trevon Diggs, 51st overall in 2020 (33rd)

Tyler Biadasz, 146th overall in 2020 (29th)

Micah Parsons, 12th overall in 2021 (7th)

Jabril Cox, 128th overall in 2021 (73rd)

Tyler Smith, 24th overall in 2022 (19th)

Damone Clark, 176th overall in 2022 (44th)

Wrap Up

Drafting efficiently leads to more consistent success as an organization. We’ve recently seen a team like the Eagles have two super bowl appearances with two different rosters in a 4 year span, and the 49ers build the best roster in football because of the surplus value that they get having Brock Purdy on a rookie contract. A majority of teams are still seemingly making head scratching decisions and here at StarX we have the platform to dive deeper into these decisions and expose the inefficiencies of the top decision makers in the NFL. We hope you found this helpful and please feel free to reach out if you want a more in depth look at our projections!


• https://medium.com/@starxnetworks/dynamic-salary-projections-for-college-football-players-c0409ce53566

• https://twitter.com/starx/status/1783593368188027272

• https://www.spotrac.com/

• https://www.wideleft.football/p/2024-consensus-big-board-the-top